Juvenile Indigent Defense Delivery System
Maine provides counsel to indigent youth through a locally-based process. The court appoints private attorneys who have submitted their names to the District Court clerk to represent indigent youth. The indigent defense system is 100% state-funded.
The Maine Commission on Indigent Defense Legal Services is responsible for promulgating standards for the representation of the indigent in Maine courts. The Commission has adopted Juvenile Practice Standards. To be eligible to represent juveniles in delinquency cases, an attorney must meet the Eligibility Requirements.
In addition to statutes and case law, juvenile court proceedings are governed by court rules. These are often promulgated at the state level, but may also be passed at the local court level instead of or in addition to statewide rules. Maine’s delinquency proceedings are governed by the Family Division Rules, which are part of the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure.
Right to Counsel
Beyond the right to counsel in juvenile court guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution and In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967), states often have state constitution or statutory provisions further expanding upon on or delineating that right.
In Maine, youth in juvenile court have the right to “counsel at every stage of the proceedings.” 15 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 3306(1)(A). The court must advise juveniles of their right to counsel at the first court appearance and at every subsequent appearance. 15 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 3306(1)(A). If counsel is requested and the juvenile and his or her legal guardian are found to be indigent, the court shall appoint counsel. 15 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 3306(1)(B). The court may appoint counsel even when a youth does not request it, if the court deems legal representation necessary to protect the interests of the youth. 15 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 3306.
Determination of Indigence
Maine has no presumption of indigence in juvenile court proceedings.
In determining whether a defendant is indigent the court considers the defendant’s income, credit standing, assets, living expenses, dependents, outstanding obligations, and the cost of retaining competent counsel. Me. R. Crim. P. 44(b). If the individual is an un-emancipated minor, the court will also consider the financial resources of their parents. Me. R. Crim. P. 44(b).
Waiver of Counsel
Maine does not have a specific juvenile statute, rule, or case law addressing a juvenile’s waiver of counsel.
When and how the court may decide to detain a child or otherwise place restrictions on the child’s freedom is defined by statute and court rules. In Maine, youth must have a detention hearing within 48 hours of being detained, excluding weekends and holidays. 15 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 3203(2)(A).
Provisions for the detention of juveniles are found in 15 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 3201-3205, and 3306, 3306-A.
The U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court case law are also sources of due process rights beyond local and state statutes and provisions. NJDC’s Detention Page provides more information about detaining youth.
The legal needs of children in the delinquency system rarely end at disposition, and states vary in the way they provide a right to representation on these post-disposition issues. Maine statutes list one post-disposition proceeding at which youth have a right to counsel.
In Maine, youth have a right to counsel in the following post-disposition proceeding:
- Appeal, if indigent. 15 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 3404.
NJDC’s Post-Disposition Page has more information on this topic from a national perspective.
Ages of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction
The age of a child who comes within the jurisdiction of the state’s juvenile courts is defined by state law. In Maine:
- No statute specifies the youngest age at which a juvenile can be adjudicated delinquent;
- Juvenile court has jurisdiction over offenses alleged to have been committed prior to a child’s 18th birthday; after age 18, the youth is charged in adult court, 15 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 3003(14);
- Family court can retain jurisdiction over youth until age 21, provided that the offense alleged to have been committed occurred before the youth turned 18, 15 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 3316(2)(a). Probation may extend beyond child’s 21st birthday. 15 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 3314-A.
Youth in Adult Court
Despite the existence of juvenile courts, many youth are still tried as adults. Maine has two ways that juveniles can be prosecuted as adults:
- Discretionary Transfer: for any crime, and with a presumption in favor of transfer after hearing for more serious crimes. 15 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 3101(4)(A).
- Once an adult, Always an adult: 15 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 3101(4)(G).
NJDC conducts statewide assessments of access to counsel and the quality of juvenile defense representation in delinquency proceedings around the country. These assessments provide a state with baseline information about the nature and efficacy of its juvenile indigent defense structures, highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the indigent juvenile defense system, and provide tailored recommendations that address each state’s distinctive characteristics to help decision-makers focus on key trouble spots and highlight best practices. The NJDC State Assessment Page provides more information about state assessments.
The Maine Assessment was completed in 2003.
Current through January 2014.